Let Palestinians Speak On Tufts Birthright
Dear Rabbi Brawer,

We come to you as constituent students of Hillel who care deeply about Tufts University’s Jewish community. More specifically, we are students who are eligible to go on Birthright with Tufts University Hillel, or have already gone on Birthright, or have been to Israel on other Jewish trips.

Through our participation in Tufts Hillel, we have seen that our community values complexity, nuance, and the inclusion of multiple experiences and narratives. The exclusion of voices of Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel from Birthright runs counter to our core values. We see the Birthright trip as an extension of our campus Jewish community, and therefore expect it to live up to the same values of the community as a whole.

On a trip to Israel, we should experience the country’s history and culture, but we should also learn about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and hear the voices of Palestinians living under occupation. As those of us who have been on Birthright and similar trips can attest, shielding us from these truths creates a “connection” to Israel that feels fragile at best. As students at Tufts University, we are expected to approach new ideas with open minds, challenge our assumptions, and think critically about the world around us. On Tufts Hillel's website, you write that your trip provides a "nuanced, unique, and exciting Birthright Israel experience, reflective of the caliber of Tufts students." How can Tufts students have a nuanced experience without hearing a single Palestinian voice on their trip?

We therefore ask that our campus’ Birthright trip meet with Palestinians who can speak to the realities of life under military occupation. Attached is a list of examples of many such individuals and organizations — particularly those who can speak to experiences of living under full Israeli control in the West Bank. We affirm that meeting with these individuals is essential to students’ ability to engage meaningfully with Israel and Palestine.
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